Tagged: David Price

The Beantown Split…

Credit:  Michael Dwyer-AP

Game 1:  Yankees 3, Red Sox 0…

Michael Pineda goes on the DL with a season-ending injury so “who ya gonna call”?  Apparently the answer is CC Sabathia.  In the first game on Sunday, CC gave the Yankees exactly what they needed…six innings of scoreless two-hit ball.  He blamed the five walks on rust, but he was otherwise very effective against the potent Red Sox lineup as the Yankees topped the Red Sox.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Sabathia (8-3) walked the first two batters he faced in the game.  A force out at second put runners at the corners with one out.  But Sabathia was able to induce former Yankee Chris Young to hit into an inning-ending double play to keep the Red Sox off the board.

The Yankees were finally able to break through with the game’s first runs in the fourth inning against Sox starter Rick Porcello.  Didi Gregorius lined a one-out single to right.  Clint Frazier hit an infield grounder to shortstop Xander Bogaerts, but Bogaerts bobbled the ball for an error, allowing Frazier to reach first as Gregorius took second.  Austin Romine singled to left, just past a diving Bogaerts, to load the bases.  Ji-Man Choi hit a sharp fly ball to left fielder Andrew Benintendi, which scored Gregorius.  Ronald Torreyes got all of a Porcello pitch with the barrel of his bat for a solid single to left, which brought Clint Frazier around to score in a close play at the plate.  Brett Gardner took a pitch off the forearm to re-load the bases, but Chase Headley grounded out to first to end the inning.  2-0, Yankees.

Credit:  Michael Dwyer-AP

In the top of the 5th, Didi Gregorius lined a fly ball into the right field stands just fair of the Pesky Pole for a two-out solo home run as the Yankees increased their lead to 3-0.

Aaron Judge finally got his first hit of the series in the 7th when he reached first base on an infield grounder against Red Sox reliever Austin Maddox.  

In the bottom of the 7th, Tyler Clippard (Yikes!) replaced CC Sabathia.  Like Saturday, the first batter he faced (Brock Holt) singled to start the inning.  Despite my Clippard-induced uneasiness, he retired the next three batters to get out of the inning.  

After the Yankees failed to score any runs in the top of the 8th with two men on base, the Red Sox brought the tying run to the plate in the bottom of the inning after Chad Green two-out walks to Mitch Moreland and Sam Travis.  Fortunately, Jackie Bradley, Jr went down swinging as Green preserved the shutout.

Manager Joe Girardi brought in Aroldis Chapman for the 9th, his third consecutive appearance in three days.  Unlike Friday night, Chapman did his job, despite a two-out single by Dustin Pedroia, to earn his 9th save of the season.  

The Yankees (47-42) moved 2 1/2 games behind the Red Sox in the AL East with the win.  Pending the outcome of the second game of the double-header, the Yankees also slid back into a second place tie with the Tampa Bay Rays.  The Rays finally lost to the Los Angeles Angels, 4-3.  

Game 2:  Red Sox 3, Yankees 0…

In the nightcap, the Red Sox reversed Game 1’s score as they shut out the Yankees.  It was the first time this season the Yankees have failed to score.  

The Yankees have generally fared well against Red Sox starter David Price but not on this night.  Price scattered 7 hits over 8 scoreless innings and struck out 8.  He did not walk a batter.  Masahiro Tanaka (7-9) gave the Yanks length (he went 7 2/3 innings) but he was unable to match Price’s performance.

Credit:  Adam Glanzman-Getty Images

In the bottom of the 3rd inning, the Red Sox broke their 24-inning scoreless streak when Christian Vazquez singled and Mookie Betts clobbered a Tanaka pitch over the Green Monster and out of Fenway Park for a 2-0 lead.

Garrett Cooper picked his first Major League hit in the 5th inning when he lined a double to the wall in left.  He was left stranded but it was good to see him finally have a productive at-bat.

The Red Sox picked up another run in the bottom of the 6th.  Mookie Betts led off with a liner that deflected off Masahiro Tanaka’s glove.  On the run, Starlin Castro scooped it up and hurriedly threw a low throw to first baseman Garrett Cooper which Cooper was unable to handle.  Betts, without hesitation, advanced to second.  An error was charged to Castro.  After Betts moved to third on a groundout by Andrew Benintendi, Dustin Pedroia hit a hard single into left field, just past Ronald Torreyes at third.  Torreyes misread the velocity of the ball, otherwise, he could have moved into proper position to potentially get the runner at home.  The run increased the Sox lead to 3-0.

With Gary Sanchez on base in the eighth, Aaron Judge had a chance to make it a one-run game when he launched a high fly to the Bermuda Triangle in center.  But Jackie Bradley, Jr made a leaping catch to snag  the ball which would have landed in the Sox bullpen.  “I thought it had a chance.  But I just hit it to the wrong part of the park and the wrong centerfielder.  Jackie’s been making plays like that for a long time,” Judge said after the game.

Credit:  Billie Weiss/Boston Red Sox/Getty Images

The Yankees had a chance in the 9th against closer Craig Kimbrel.  Didi Gregorius, 0-for-5  with 5 K’s lifetime against Kimbrel, ripped stand-up double off the left field wall.  With two outs, Brett Gardner, pinch-hitting for Garrett Cooper, walked.  It brought Chase Headley to the plate representing the tying run, but sadly, Headley struck out to end the game.

The Yankees (47-43) fell back into third place with the loss, 3 1/2 games behind the Red Sox.  The Tampa Bay Rays are 1/2 game ahead of the Yanks.  

HR Derby Hangover:  It was not a great series for Aaron Judge.  He was 1-for-18 with 6 strikeouts and 3 walks.  Hopefully the Land of 10,000 Lakes helps him get back on track.  

Next Up:  Minnesota Twins at Target Field, Minneapolis, MN…

The Yankees will see one of their former starters this series when Bartolo Colon takes the mound on Wednesday for his first appearance as a Minnesota Twin.  Aaron Judge and Gary Sanchez will be able to meet up with fellow Home Run Derby participant Miguel Sano.  Like the Yankees, the Twins (46-45) started the season strong but have tailed off lately.

Here are the scheduled pitching match-ups.  

TODAY

Yankees:  Bryan Mitchell (1-1, 5.06 ERA)

Twins:  Adalberto Mejia (4-4, 4.43 ERA)

TUESDAY

Yankees:  Luis Cessa (0-3, 4.18 ERA)*

Twins:  Bartolo Colon (0-0, 0.00 ERA)  — He was 2-8 with 8.14 ERA for the NL Braves.

*Cessa is listed as the scheduled starter, but with Caleb Smith on the active roster, I wonder if Smith makes his MLB debut this game. 

WEDNESDAY

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (6-4, 3.78 ERA)

Twins:  Jose Berrios (8-3, 3.70 ERA)

Odds & Ends…

Red Sox manager John Farrell said Boston will formally file a protest over the lack of an interference call in Saturday night’s 4-1 victory by the Yankees.  In the 11th inning, Matt Holliday, forced out at second on an infield grounder to first base by Jacoby Ellsbury, raced back to first thinking that Ellsbury had been forced before the throw to second.  His action prevented Red Sox first baseman Mitch Moreland from catching the relay from Xander Bogaerts and Ellsbury was ruled safe at first.  Farrell felt that it should have been a double play on interference.  The Yankees didn’t score in the inning so the net effect was inconsequential.  I am not really sure what purpose the protest serves.  It was clearly not an intentional act by Holliday as he thought that he was still in play.   

Upon completion of yesterday’s double-header, RHP Domingo German was optioned to Triple A.  Bryan Mitchell, who served as the “26th man” for the double-header, was moved onto the 25-man roster and will start tonight’s game. 

Have a great Monday!  Hopefully the Yankees will be right on target at Target Field.  Let’s Go Yankees!

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For Gary, the Price is Right!…

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

Yankees 9, Red Sox 1…

Admittedly, I was glad that it was David Price on the mound Thursday and not Chris Sale.  For an ace, I’ve never been worried when Price is pitching against the Yankees as they generally seem to come up big against him.  Thursday was no exception.  

Credit:  Mike Stobe-Getty Images

As John Sterling says, “Gary is scary”.  A night after Chris Carter almost hit two home runs, Gary accomplished the feat for his second multi-homer game in a week.  They had meat in them as both occurred with runners on base (solo homers seem don’t carry the same bang for the buck in a statement of the obvious).  Like Wednesday’s game, the Yankees scored first with Brett Gardner’s run-scoring single in the bottom of the 2nd.  Then, like Chris Carter the day before, Gary Sanchez got a hold of David Price’s pitch with Aaron Judge and Matt Holliday on base and deposited it over the left-center wall to give the Yankees a nice cushion.  Sanchez went deep again in the 5th, with a blast to center off Price, scoring Starlin Castro.  Gary was 2-for-4 with 5 RBI’s and 3 runs scored.  

Gary has hit Price well in his brief career.  He is 4-for-7 with four home runs.  As Gary starts to heat up, it is scary to think what the Yankees offense is capable of when it is hitting all cylinders.  Even when they are not, it seems like someone is coming up big (unless your name is Chase Headley).  

It was also an impressive night for Aaron Judge, even without any homers.  He was 3-for-4, with two runs scored, pushing his season batting average to .330.  His single in the sixth inning off Red Sox reliever Fernando Abad was the hardest hit ball of the year according to Statcast.  With exit velocity of 119.8 mph, Judge pushed two of his own prior efforts to second and third on the Exit Velocity leaderboard.  

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

Brett Gardner took the lead in the Bald Brothers Battle with his 13th home run of the season, a fly to center in the 8th when the game was no longer in doubt.  I was really hoping that Matt Holliday would be able to match Gardner two batters later, but he was hit by a pitch, taking the bat out of his hands prematurely.  

I have to mention the great running catch by Ronald Torreyes in the 9th.  As a defensive substitution for Didi Gregorius after Austin Romine had pinch hit for Didi, Torreyes ran toward the left field foul area after Xander Bogaerts hit a sharp fly.  Sliding past the foul line, Torreyes made the catch to record the first out.  Plays like this show the 2017 Yankees are a team that likes to have fun.  You could see the appreciation from his teammates as Torreyes walked back on field.  

Just when you thought Chris Carter was finally starting to hit, he was 0-for-4 as his batting average slipped below .200 again (.195).  He was the only starter not to reach base through a hit or a walk.  Chase Headley committed his 10th error of the season, matching his season total last year.  

Lost among the stellar night by Sanchez was a tremendous start by Michael Pineda (7-3).  After the disaster in his last start against the Toronto Blue Jays, Pineda was on top of his game against the Sox.  He held Red Sox batters to only four hits over seven innings, and only allowed one unearned run.  He walked two and struck out eight in the dominating performance.  

Credit:  Randy Miller-NJ Advance Media for NJ.com

The quartet of Pineda, CC Sabathia, Luis Severino and Jordan Montgomery have really been fun to watch with the most recent run through the rotation.  Masahiro Tanaka, not so much…

As for the bullpen, I thought Adam Warren and Giovanny Gallegos did good jobs.  Warren pitched a clean 8th inning, recording one strikeout.  Gallegos came on in the 9th, and easily got the first two batters out.  Manager Joe Girardi then made a pitching change to bring Dellin Betances into the game.  Betances clearly had rust, having not pitched for about five days.  He walked Hanley Ramirez.  Ramirez subsequently took 2nd on defensive indifference.  Dellin struck out the next batter, Jackie Bradley, Jr, but the ball got away from Gary Sanchez for a wild pitch, and JBJ made it safely to first with Ramirez taking third.  Like Ramirez, JBJ then took 2nd on defensive indifference.  Josh Rutledge followed with a walk to load the bases.  I have to say that I was getting a bit concerned, even with a 9-1 lead.  Fortunately, Dellin ended the game with the next batter, Pablo Sandoval, on a called third strike.  For what should have been a short one-out stint, Betances ended up throwing 17 pitches.  Hopefully, the work proves beneficial for the upcoming Baltimore series.  

Credit:  Charles Wenzelberg

Coming into the Boston series, the Red Sox could have taken the AL East lead with a sweep.  But thanks to two Yankees victories following the opening game loss, New York (34-23) increased its lead to 3 games.  The Baltimore Orioles lost to the Washington Nationals, 6-1, dropping 3 1/2 games back.

I never thought that we’d hold Boston to only one run in two games, but it’s been a very fun couple of nights.  I am hoping for a similar result in the upcoming series against the Baltimore Orioles at Yankee Stadium.

Odds & Ends…

Greg Bird should be back soon.  He is saying that he is as close to 100% as he has been since spring training.  On Thursday, he moved up from High-A Tampa to AAA-Scranton/Wilkes-Barre on rehab assignment.  He was 1-for-3 with a single and two walks in SWB’s 3-2 loss to Lehigh Valley.  I liked his comments when asked how will he know when he’s ready:  “Some magical sign. Lightning will strike my bat”.  He was kidding, of course, but if he starts hitting like he did in Spring Training, it’s going to be a very fun summer.

Here are the pitching match-ups for the three-game series with the Baltimore Orioles that begins tonight.  

FRIDAY

Orioles:  Dylan Bundy (6-4, 2.93 ERA)

Yankees:  Jordan Montgomery (3-4, 3.67 ERA)

SATURDAY

Orioles:  Chris Tillman (1-3, 5.59 ERA)

Yankees:  Luis Severino (4-2, 2.90 ERA)

SUNDAY

Orioles:  Kevin Gausman (3-4, 5.86 ERA)

Yankees:  Masahiro Tanaka, Yikes!  (5-6, 6.55 ERA)

Have a great Friday!  As always, Go Yankees!

No need to counter Boston’s moves…

All Quiet on the Eastern Front…

It has been a very quiet end of the year for the Yankees.  There were rumors of the Yankees talking with the Chicago White Sox about Jose Quintana and David Robertson but they quickly lost legs.  While the Yankees need starting pitching, I agree that it is best not to raid the newly stocked farm system.  It is a risk to bet on prospects over an established major leaguer, but while Jose Quintana is a good pitcher, he’s not Chris Sale.  Given Chicago’s desire for top prospects in return, it just does not make sense.  Quintana will not be a 2017 difference maker.

jose-quintana-mlb-chicago-white-sox-texas-rangers

Credit:  Kevin Jairaj, USA Today Sports

I still believe the Yankees are better served by identifying an undervalued young starter with potential.  Sure, that’s every team’s wish but the Yankees have the scouts and resources to uncover the hidden gems.  It is harder to pitch in New York than it is in, say, Pittsburgh, but for some guys, the main stage brings out their full potential.

The New York Mets’ Noah Syndergaard was once just a prospect included in a trade (when the Mets dealt knuckleballer R.A. Dickey to the Toronto Blue Jays).  I think that trade has worked out very well in favor of the Mets.  It also brought them starting catcher Travis D’Arnaud.  The 2012 trade was a risk for the Mets given Dickey was the reigning NL Cy Young winner, but he has never been as good as he was in 2011 and the other guys sent to Toronto are after thoughts (Josh Thole and Mike Nickeas).

The Yankees are not going to win the World Series in 2017.  The current blueprint puts the Yankees on the path to World Series contention in two to three years.  They have the time to develop frontline starters so why not take a chance on some other team’s “Jake Arrieta”.  The Chicago Cubs saw something in the former Baltimore Orioles hurler and it has paid off quite handsomely for them.

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I have high hopes for the Yankees young pitching prospects.  James Kaprielian heads the list, but I haven’t forgotten or given up hope for Ian Clarkin.  Jordan Montgomery and Dietrich Enns are other homegrown prospects that come to mind.  The first young starters that will be given the chance to crack the rotation next season are the obvious ones…Luis Cessa and Chad Green.  There’s also the hope that Luis Severino restores the promise that he showed in 2015 and is not just another failed starter that succeeds in the pen.  Trade acquisitions Justus Sheffield, Dillon Tate, and Albert Abreu also hold promise.

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Credit:  MLB.com

If Severino is successful and just one of the young prospects stands out in the Spring, the rotation that already includes Masahiro Tanaka, Michael Pineda and CC Sabathia does not look so bad.  It might not be ‘Chris Sale-David Price-Rick Porcello-Eduardo Rodriguez’ worthy, but the foundation is being laid for future success.  It will be imperative for the Yankees to re-sign Tanaka should he opt out of his contract following the season, but Sabathia’s departure as he plays out the final year of his contract will continue to create opportunity for the young prospects.  Michael Pineda is a case by himself.  He is either a really great starter or a disaster.  If he can ever hold the focus on the former, the pitching staff will be significantly improved.

Next season, young players like Gary Sanchez, Aaron Judge, Tyler Austin, and Greg Bird will play prominent roles for the Yankees.  If any are not successful, there is another wave of young players waiting for their opportunities at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre or Trenton.  It is inevitable that we’ll see outfielder Clint Frazier at some point in the season, even if it is just a September call-up.  I don’t want to lose this talent in the farm system for the chance on a pitcher which always seems to be the biggest risk in baseball.  Gleyber Torres has already shown that he has that “it” factor even if he is still a few years away from the Bronx.  Stay the course.  GM Brian Cashman’s blue print so far has been successful.  He has turned what was one of the worst farm systems a few years ago to one of the best.  They have the talent and depth in the system to make quiet but effective trades without sacrificing the organization’s best.

2017 may not be a banner year for the team but clearly the light is visible at the end of the tunnel.  Now is not the time for the Ghost of Steinbrenner Past to raise its ugly head.  Young Hal seems to have a plan and one that will soon yield fruit.  Patience.  Stick to the plan…

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—Scott

You win some, you lose some, i.e., 2014 Yankees…

Mediocrity continues…

Realistically, there was no way the Yankees could have been players at the trading deadline.  Despite the usual rumors tying the Yankees to David Price, Tampa Bay was not going to trade their prized pitcher to New York, only to have him haunt them for years.  It was potentially an opportunity for the Rays to strip the Yankees cupboards bare but that would have been foolish on the Yankees’ part.

Ditto for the Boston Red Sox.  If there was the slightest possibility the Rays would have considered moving Price to New York, there was none when it came to Boston.  There is no circumstance that would allow their pride to part with one of their core players to the hated Yankees.  Yes, the Yankees were able to pick up Stephen Drew, but he has not been a vital part of the success of the Red Sox in recent years.

Boston Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew can't make

AP

Interestingly enough, Boston’s trade of Lester to the Oakland A’s increases the possibility that he becomes a Yankee next year in my opinion.  Oakland will not pony up the necessary dollars and I am not sure that Boston would get any hometown discount (if there ever would have been one to begin with).  I am sure that the Los Angeles Dodgers will make a play for Lester and I would not underestimate the Seattle Mariners since Lester is a Northwest native.

If, by chance, Lester does return to Boston in the off-season as a free agent, it would be quite a coup to land Yoenis Cespedes for a two month rental of Lester to the A’s.

Back to the Yankees, there really wasn’t a blockbuster deal in the cards for them.  The pitchers they were linked to (most notably John Danks) all have their own question marks and the Yankees would still have had to overpay.  So, all things considered, losing C/1B prospect Peter O’Brien (in the deal to acquire Martin Prado from the Arizona Diamondbacks) was a small price to pay.  The Yankees have no shortage of replacement prospects for O’Brien (he wasn’t going to be a catcher and his departure allowed the Yankees to promote 1B Greg Bird to AA).  Kelly Johnson for Stephen Drew made sense as Johnson wasn’t really being used by the Yankees, and Stephen Drew gets an audition as a potential 2015 replacement for the retiring Derek Jeter even if he’ll be out of position (2B instead of SS) for the next two months.

Drew’s arrival (a surprise given that it involved an infrequent trade with Boston) spelled the end of the line for former Baltimore Orioles great Brian Roberts.  Roberts seemed like a good guy but the Yankees needed more at 2B.  Drew, even though he had never played 2B at the major league level, was still an upgrade at a position that has been sorely lacking since the day Robinson Cano signed in Seattle.  I wish that Drew had a stronger bat, but his athleticism seems to play well on defense.

Prado is a great all purpose guy but not exactly what I had envisioned for right field.  Yet, he’s an improvement over the aging Ichiro Suzuki.  I heard the Yankees had tried to acquire Dustin Ackley from the Seattle Mariners before they turned their sights on Prado.  Apparently, Seattle’s request for minor league pitcher Bryan Mitchell was a deal breaker.  That’s too bad because I’ve long thought that Ackley would fit well with the Yankees.  Personally, I would have given up Mitchell to get Ackley.

The Yankees did need help on offense and even if they weren’t flashy moves, the additions of Drew and Prado were upgrades.  But I had really hoped the Yankees would have been able to secure an additional arm for the rotation which didn’t happen.  But I never wanted to see a deal that involved losing top prospects so perhaps it was best that nothing happened.  Clearly, the Yankees are not going to win a World Series this year unless they get ridiculously lucky in the next couple of months.  As it stands, they’d be easily dismissed by either Oakland or Detroit.

It’s possible the Yankees made a waiver deal or two this month, but I seriously doubt there will be any major additions.  Win or lose, this is the 2014 Yankees.

Chasing A-Rod…

It is early in Chase Headley’s Yankee career, however, I really like what I’ve seen so far.  Granted, he doesn’t bring a monster bat, but his defensive plays have been something that has been missing from Yankee Stadium for many years.  There’s no doubt I prefer Headley over Alex Rodriguez and I hope the Yankees decide to bring Headley back next year.

New Yankee Chase Headley belts game-winning single in 14th

Getty Images

Considering that Yangervis Solarte has been hitting with consistency since he arrived in San Diego, the Headley trade is one of those that seems to have worked out well for both teams involved.

Friendships revisited…

With the acquisitions of Drew and Prado, it was interesting how it reunited former teammates.  For Drew, it was a reunion with former Red Sox centerfielder Jacoby Ellsbury and lefty specialist Matt Thornton.  He was traded for a close friend, Kelly Johnson, a former teammate when they were both in Arizona.  Ironically, I read that Drew and Johnson were together in Drew’s home when news of the trade broke.  I am sure that probably hasn’t happened too often.

For Prado, he was teammates in Atlanta with catcher Brian McCann and first baseman Mark Teixeira.

AP/John Bazemore

Even Carlos Beltran was able to catch up with old friends, even though they are playing in the opposing dugout with former Cardinals teammates Allen Craig and Joe Kelly.  It wasn’t that long ago Beltran, Craig and Kelly were playing in the World Series, along with now Boston reliever Edward Mujica, against the Red Sox at Fenway Park.

Assimilating with a new team…

When Wednesday’s games were over, I am sure that Stephen Drew’s mind was on the upcoming series against the Yankees.  So, when Thursday’s trade put him in the opposite dugout, I wonder how long it takes to drop the loyalty to the former team.  Not that I would think Drew would do anything to hurt the Yankees’ chances to beat the Red Sox but I wonder if there is a part of you that quietly roots for your former teammates.  When you are used to cheering the home team at Fenway, does that feeling automatically leave because you are suddenly wearing a different uniform?  For Drew, when he played second base for the Yankees on Friday night, he had much deeper and more meaningful relationships with the Red Sox than he did with his own teammates.  He’ll develop those friendships on the team in time, but it just seems to me that it would be very difficult to change loyalties at the drop of a hat.

I watched a little of Jon Lester’s debut with the Oakland A’s on Saturday.  Admittedly, Lester looked a little strange in Oakland’s uniform.  Jeff Samardzija looked more at ease than Lester did during their respective debuts, but it didn’t show up in Lester’s performance as he beat the Kansas City Royals while the Red Sox were losing to the Yankees.

MLB: Kansas City Royals at Oakland Athletics

USA Today Sports

David Price’s debut as a Detroit Tiger takes place this week against the Yankees.  As if they didn’t see Price enough while he was with the Rays.  Oh well, to be the best, you have to beat the best or so they say…

–Scott

 

To pay or not to pay…

The high “Price” of success…

The majority of the Yankees starting rotation is gone, with Hiroki Kuroda as the last man standing.  Honestly, I keep expecting reports that Kuroda has been lost for the year and perhaps his career as this is most likely his final year in Major League Baseball. 

I am not ready to declare Brandon McCarthy as a top of the rotation starter after Brian McCann’s comments to the same effect following McCarthy’s debut win as Yankee yesterday but will acknowledge that he is at the top of the rotation with this Yankees staff.  That’s why it is amazing the Yankees are two games over .500 at this point in the season.  It is certainly a testament to Joe Girardi’s managerial ability.  But as it stands, it is not sustainable and by Brian Cashman’s own admission, the team needs starting pitching.

McCarthy feeling like himself while wife tweets support

 Bill Kostroun/New York Post

I have such mixed feelings on this subject because I do not believe there is a move that can be made that would propel this Yankee team to the World Series.  Well, there’s moves that could be made to give the Yankees “something” for “nothing”, but of course that’s not going to happen.  I am watching the increasingly glowing reports about minor league pitcher Luis Severino, and there is part of me that wonders how much is legitimate and how much is the Yankees PR machine.  He is a quality talent, don’t get me wrong, but of course, the Yankees will ‘enhance’ the images of its young future stars given the lack of quality major league ready talent at the upper levels of the farm system.

But with that being said, I don’t want to see Severino, or Peter O’Brien or Gary Sanchez or Rob Refsnyder or any other quality prospect headed to another team for an aging overpaid player that has seen his best years and is a short term option since it still will not mean a World Series and the Yankees will regret having those players in future years.  David Price is one of the few quality exceptions that I’d make, but despite the talk, there’s no way the Tampa Bay Rays trade with the Yankees.  From Tampa’s perspective, I’d only do it if I knew that I could clean out New York’s quality prospects and damage the organization for years to come.

Even if the Yankees bring in pitching upgrades for the starting rotation, you still can’t win games if you do not score runs. 

Open audition for Closer’s role?…

With impending free agency for Mariano Rivera successor David Robertson and the lack of any discussions, I wonder if the team is evaluating whether Robertson or the breakout performer Dellin Betances is better suited for the role long term.  Robertson has done a great job but Betances is younger (albeit by a few years) and he casts a far more imposing presence on the mound by virtue of his height and size (6’8”, 260 lbs) compared to the smaller, more slender Robertson (5’11”, 195).   

Dellin Betances earlier this month.

 Barton Silverman/The New York Times

There’s also the cost factor as Betances will be the cheaper option and the Yankees will need those dollars to upgrade other areas of the team for its 2015 rebuild. 

Robertson has done much better than I thought he did.  There have been a couple of hiccups but even the great Rivera had a few of those.  It’s part of the life of a closer.  But he’s been more successful than not and consistency in the role is the key.  I’d like to see Robertson stay as the knockout punch of Betances-Robertson is a good one.  But of course, I liked the knockout punch of Mariano Rivera-John Wetteland in 1996 but the decision to let Wetteland walk turned out alright. 

This will be an interesting off-season for the Yankees with so many decisions to make.  I am still not convinced that Brian Cashman will be the GM beyond this year.  The only certainty I can project is that Joe Girardi will be back.  Well, that and Derek Jeter is headed to the Hall of Fame.  But beyond that, I am sure there will be a series of moves again this off-season as the team tries to recapture its glory.  The 2014 Yankees are certainly not one that you would stand pat for. 

Farewell to a Champion…

Okay, this is not baseball related, but I was saddened to see the news of the passing of actor James Garner.  As a child, I used to regularly watch The Rockford Files and would catch old episodes of Maverick on syndication.  Garner had such a great sense of “coolness” that he brought to the roles of Jim Rockford and Bret Maverick, and his happy-go-lucky attitude was always so refreshing.  This has been a difficult year in terms of the losses we’ve seen.  Celebrity deaths have been almost a frequent as pitchers requiring Tommy John surgery.  A sad day but Garner made a difference with his life and that’s something all of us aspire to do…

 

–Scott

 

Sometimes Money Does Matter…

The Hunger Games…

When the Yankees said they were going to be big spenders during the opening signing period for international prospects, I still didn’t imagine how aggressive they would be. Based on MLB.com’s list of top international prospects, the Yankees have apparently signed five of the top ten players:

• Dermis Garcia, SS, Dominican Republic, #1
• Nelson Gomes, 3B, Dominican Republic, #2
• Juan De Leon, OF, Dominican Republic, #5
• Jonathan Amundaray, OF, Venezuela, #7
• Antonio Arias, OF, Venezuela, #9

In the second ten (11-20), they grabbed three shortstops:

• Hyo-Jun Park, SS, Korea, #13
• Wilkerman Garcia, SS, Venezuela, #14
• Diego Castilla, SS, Venezuela, #16

They also signed the #25 player in catcher Miguel Flames, Venezuela.

At first pass, it seems like a number of shortstops but I’ve read that Dermis Garcia will eventually be a corner infielder and Wilkerman Garcia may be switched to second base.

Dermis Garcia, the prized signing, represents the most the Yankees have spent on the international market since they signed top catching prospect Gary Sanchez in 2009. Garcia received $3.2 million, while Sanchez received $3.0 million.

It’s interesting that Garcia was born in 1998, perhaps the greatest year of the modern Yankees era.

I can still remember when the Yankees selected an 18-year-old Derek Jeter out of Kalamazoo, Michigan. Hopefully, the 16 year-old Garcia will be a presence in pinstripes for more than 20 years too.

Of course, while the Yankees were focused on position players, the Boston Red Sox quietly signed the top two pitchers in Christopher Acosta, Dominican Republic, and Anderson Espinoza, Venezuela.

I thought it was a telling choice in the selection of the catcher (Flames). The Yankees seems overloaded with catching prospects and the Flames arrival is probably the prelude to the inclusion of another catching prospect such as Sanchez or John Ryan Murphy in a potential trade this month. I would not want to lose Sanchez for a middle-of-the-road starting pitcher but if the return were say someone like David Price, then I am all in.

With the international signings at approximately $14 million, the cost could be as much as $30 million with penalties plus the Yankees will be non-players in the next two signing periods as they’ll be restricted to no more than $300,000 per player. But with their aggressive approach this year, the Yankees have infused significant future talent into the lower levels of the farm system.

The future is now…

I saw a reference that Park would be the first Korean-born Yankee but that’s unfair to AAA second baseman Rob Refsnyder. Although raised in CA since he was 3 months, he was born in Seoul, South Korea to Korean parents. So I’d say Refsnyder will be the first Korean Yankee. Speaking of Refsnyder, I seriously hope that his Bronx arrival is sooner rather than later. The Yankees need to upgrade second base. Brian Roberts was once a great player but he’ll never be that guy again. Why not go with a younger player who has upside potential? The sooner we can put Robinson Cano in the rear view mirror, the better.

What have you done for me lately?…

So much for the rags to riches story for career minor leaguer Yangervis Solarte. After a terrific start to the season, he has been non-existent for the past month and it earned him a free ride to Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. His replacement is actually an older career minor leaguer, Zelous Wheeler, so we’ll see how this goes. If it were me, I would have brought up Refsnyder. But there’s a reason that Brian Cashman is GM and I am not, so I’ll just have to have faith in the decision.

Too little, too late?…

Honestly, I am not sure there is anything the Yankees can do to save this season. They are a game under .500 entering play tonight and have played with virtually no offense. They only win if they can hold the opponent to a couple of runs or less. Robinson Cano is one player that could ignite the offense but obviously there’s no way the Seattle Mariners are going to give him up. In retrospect, the Yankees should have overpaid to keep Cano. Alfonso Soriano was that kind of player at times last year but he’s been in a season long slump that almost certainly means this is his final year in pinstripes. I thought that Brian McCann would be hitting by now but he is showing that he’s one of those guys who needs a long acclimation process to the Bronx. Carlos Beltran is merely showing that he is a 36-year-old outfielder. The other off-season right field option, Shin Choo-Soo, has fared no better in Texas.

At this moment, the Detroit Tigers stand as the team to beat in the American League. For the past couple of weeks, they’ve been invincible and easily handled the second best Oakland A’s this week. Joba Chamberlain is probably loving life at the top.

While I recognize the Yankees will make a move this month, I hope that they do not trade any top prospects unless the return is top shelf (i.e., David Price). I’d hate to lose Gary Sanchez and still finish 3rd or 4th in the AL East.

Oh well, tonight the Yankees play Phil Hughes in Minneapolis. Let’s hope the results are better than the last time they saw Hughes in the Bronx when he and the Minnesota Twins dominated the Yanks.

–Scott

The Anticipation…

 

The 2013-14 Hot Stove League has opened for business…

The baseball offseason is always interesting.  In November, when the Hot Stove League open, there is more talk and speculation than real action.  There is the occasional free agent signing, like Marlon Byrd to the Philadelphia Phillies, but for the most part, it’s the most boring part of the winter. 

Baseball fans get excited as the baseball winter meeting approach in early December.  The ‘name’ free agents come off the board and there are a few major trades as teams look to improve their rosters for the coming year.

Then, in January and early February, things go quiet again until the excitement of pitchers and catchers reporting for spring training begin to fill the air. 

The key is what teams do in December.  Doing something versus doing nothing can be the difference in an invigorated fan base.  With the Boston Red Sox fresh off a championship season, the Yankees and their fans need something to be excited about.  Hope needs to be restored in the Yankees Universe.  The Steinbrenner family have an enormous responsibility of the owners of baseball’s most storied and valued franchise.  Sure, it is their right to do nothing and cut salaries if they so choose, but it is not good for baseball.  MLB needs a successful Yankees franchise as much as the fan base demands a winner.

From early indications, it does appear that Hal Steinbrenner is taking a more proactive role.  He plays down the speculation that the team is resolved in its intent to bring salaries below $189 million and he recognizes the weaknesses of the current roster.  So, what is he going to do about it?  Time will tell, as the saying goes…

I am still not 100% convinced Derek Jeter can be the player of old or just an old player.  He might be able to play a serviceable shortstop if healthy but the Yankees need more.  I want Jeter to play for the Yankees his entire career and he is clearly a future Hall of Famer but this is the season of transition for the legendary player.  He needs to work on playing other positions, whether it is third base or left field, to give the team its greatest value.  It is obvious Jeter has the ability to exceed my expectations but I think the odds are against it.  I am just being a realist.  Age doesn’t slow down for anyone.  Well, except for maybe Mariano Rivera

The “gift” that keeps on giving…

The unresolved Alex Rodriguez situation casts an ominous shadow over the team.  I believe the Yankees should proceed as if A-Rod will not be a member of the 2014 team but that’s easy for me to say.  The Yankees have to be prepared for a scenario that allows baseball’s most vile player to return to the field in 2014.  Personally, I look forward to the day A-Rod turns in his pinstripes for the final time.  I do not expect the Yankees to go out and land a premier third baseman like Evan Longoria but they need more than they had last year.  I respect Kevin Youkilis but his best years have passed by and at this point, he is too much of an injury risk to re-sign.  I heard the rumors the Yankees had talked with the St Louis Cardinals about David Freese but I don’t think that would have been the solution.  It’s too bad that former number one draft pick Eric Duncan didn’t work out as this would have been his prime opportunity to take third if he had been successful and not released.  But still, there are Scott Brosius-type third basemen that can be found. 

Betances-Robertson?…

After years of knowing the back end of the bullpen was secure, the Yankees have uncertainty.  The heir apparent to the great Mariano Rivera is top set up man David Robertson.  However, there is risk.  When Mo was lost for the season in 2012, Robertson failed in his brief audition as closer before Rafael Soriano took the role and ran with it.  I like Robertson as the key 8th inning guy but I am not convinced that translates to 9th inning success.  I really do not want an aged option like Joe Nathan as I would prefer younger arms.  My hope is for Robertson to succeed but there does need to be a safety net in case it doesn’t work out.

I am looking forward to key bullpen roles for guys like Dellin Betances, Preston Claiborne, and Adam Warren.  With the right moves this winter, the Yankees bullpen should be a strength even if we no longer get to see #42 warming up. 

I do remember the sense of some uncertainty when Mariano Rivera replaced John Wetteland and that turned out well.  Granted, David Robertson will never be Mariano Rivera but he can be successful in his own right.  With the right bridge from the starters to his late inning arrival, he can be successful. 

The April Iceman Cometh…

Mark Teixeira, I really hope your wrist has healed and is stronger than ever before…

But first, or rather, but second…

The perceived success or failure of the Yankees’ offseason will be tied to a single event…whether or not they re-sign second baseman Robinson Cano.  While that’s a huge part of the 2014 equation, the true testament will be how the team bolsters the starting rotation behind CC Sabathia and Ivan Nova.  Nevertheless, I hope the Yankees can retain Cano even if the player has the desire to go for top dollar regardless of who cuts the checks.

Speaking of the rotation or lack thereof…

It is hard to get excited about potential names like Ricky Nolasco.  I remain hopeful Hiroki Kuroda returns for one more year and Michael Pineda is finally able to fulfill the promise that brought him to New York.  It’s hard to speculate who I would want added to the team as there is no possibility for an acquisition of David Price or Felix Hernandez.  As Pineda has shown, arms carry great risk.  I have liked free agent Bronson Arroyo but he does not exactly fit the ‘younger arm’ mold.

Well, for now, the uncertainty and disappointment of the 2013 season still looms but soon the promise of the 2014 season will be upon us.  I said it last year and it did not happen so I’ll say it again:

Hal Steinbrenner, the message is simple…excite us!  Signed, Yankees fans.

 

–Scott